House Budget Committee

Thoughts On Paul Ryan

By United States Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the enthusiasm has definitely increased among conservative voters for the Romney campaign. The crowds have gotten larger at Romney-Ryan events. However, similar anecdotal evidence seems to show that the left is just as fired up and more motivated to defend Obama. Meanwhile, reading the Tweets and Facebook posts from my libertarian friends show that the Ryan pick has not made them more willing to consider the Romney ticket. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Ryan selection.

The Positive

The biggest positive about the Ryan selection is that this campaign may actually wind up being a debate on the future of our country. The Obama campaign is already seizing on the Ryan budget plan and is attacking it as destroying Medicare, Social Security, and just about every other government program under the sun. Now is an opportunity for the Romney-Ryan campaign to articulate an argument for limiting the size and scope of government as a means of reviving the economy. The American people would be well served by a debate over the size and scope of government. Also, ultimately, given the other choices that Romney was considering, Ryan was probably the best pick. Romney needed to pick someone who would fire up the ticket.

The Negatives

Paul Ryan should stay in the House

Paul Ryan

Speculation over Mitt Romney’s possible running mate has been rampant over the last few days. While other names are being floated, including David Petraeus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most observers seem to agree that it’s likely down to three candidates — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Out of the three, Rep. Ryan is garnering the most attention. Many conservatives seem to want him included on the ticket, and they’re laying out a strong case. David Harsanyi, for example, explains that Rep. Ryan “would add a measure of number-crunching earnestness to a campaign (and then, more importantly, should it happen, to an administration) that lives on broad strokes.” However, some want him to remain in remain in the House, where, as chairman of the Budget Committee, he has laid the blueprint to fiscal reform. My colleagues Jeremy Kolassa and George Scoville have already touched on the need for Rep. Ryan to remain in the House for exactly this reason. Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis noted that, as Vice President, Ryan would be largely marginalized.

Ryan’s budget increases spending by $1.2 trillion

There are certainly some things to like about the budget proposal rolled out yesterday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The “Path to Prosperity” attempts to return Medicare to solvency, for example, and repeal Obamacare.

Ryan claims that the budget “cuts $5.1 trillion in government spending,” a line that has been repeated in media reports on the proposal. But this is a budgetary trick. The House Budget Committee may slash projected federal outlays, but Nicole Kaeding of the Cato Institute explains that the proposal would actually increase spending by $1.2 trillion:

How can spending both be “slashed” and increased by $1.5 trillion? It’s because of the bizarre way that Washington discusses spending, which is known as baseline budgeting.
[…]
In Washington, all spending proposals are compared to the CBO’s baseline projections. The CBO releases these projections a couple times a year, which are based on their estimates of current federal law. Every proposal is then compared to this baseline. Inside-Washington discussions of spending cuts or increases are relative to CBO’s figures.

But this is a very different way of thinking about budgeting than used by families, who don’t assume that their income will go up automatically every year. Families prioritize, and they cut back when they need to make the books balance. Sadly, few proposals in Congress make tough trade-offs and cut actual levels of spending.

Paul Ryan plans to balance budget in 10 years, reform Medicare

Tom Price and Paul Ryan
Image credit: Ellen Carmichael

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) rolled out House Republicans’ FY 2015 budget proposal yesterday. The latest iteration of the “Path to Prosperity” seeks to balance the federal budget in a decade, reform Medicare, and repeal Obamacare.

“This is a plan to balance the budget and create jobs, and it builds off a simple fact: We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” Ryan said in a statement from the House Budget Committee. “This budget provides relief for families. Too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, while Washington continues to live beyond its means. It’s irresponsible to take more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington.

“Today’s proposal—The Path to Prosperity—shows that it’s not too late to tackle our country’s most pressing challenges,” he continued. “By cutting wasteful spending, strengthening key priorities, and laying the foundation for a stronger economy, we have shown the American people there’s a better way forward.”

CBO director: Obamacare will increase deficits, creates disincentive to work

CBO Director Doug Elemendorf appeared before the congressional committee yesterday to testify on his agency’s budget outlook report. As one might image, given its explosive findings, the most the discussions centered around Obamacare.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) kicked off the hearing by noting that the CBO report shows that “autopilot spending” are driving budget deficits, but he quickly turned to the findings related to Obamacare.

“This report says the debt gets worse, and we have slower economic growth compared to the last forecast,” said Ryan in his opening remarks. “But what is particularly troubling is CBO’s projection of labor force participation. CBO says that about half of this decline is attributable to the aging of the population — most notably the retirement of the ‘baby boom’ generation.”

But CBO also says that government policies, especially the President’s healthcare law, are discouraging work. Washington is making this problem worse,” he said. “This does not have to be our fate. We need to reverse this decline.”

Elemendorf parsed through various parts of the report, going through points related to the federal budget and the economy, both in the short- and long-term. But he also touched on parts of the report dealing with Obamacare.

“The baseline projections show what we think would happen to federal spending, revenues, and deficits over the next 10 years if current laws were generally unchanged,” Elemendorf told the House Budget Committee. “Under that assumption, the deficit is projected to decrease again in 2015 to [$478 billion].”

Paul Ryan could chair tax-writing committee in next Congress

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to serve as the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the powerful tax-writing committee, when the next Congress is seated in 2015, according to Politico:

Paul Ryan will seek to become the next chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a move that would bring instant star power to the cause of tax reform while complicating his presidential ambitions.

The House Budget Committee chairman intends to replace Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) when term-limit restrictions force Camp to step down in 2015, Ryan told The Wall Street Journal.

“That is my plan,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
[…]
The move would give Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate and perhaps the most popular Republican in Congress, a prime perch to pursue his long-standing interest in tax and entitlement reform. That could bring a jolt of energy to the push to overhaul the tax code for the first time in a generation, an effort led by Camp that has foundered amid widespread ambivalence among rank-and-file lawmakers.

If Ryan takes on tax reform in earnest, the move may also signal Ryan is not planning on running for president in 2016.

Ryan was term-limited from serving as chairman of the Budget Committee after the last Congress, but he was given a waiver that allowed him to stick around for one more term.

Why Romney Should Not Pick Ryan as VP

Paul Ryan

There is a lot of speculation about who will be Romney’s running mate in November, now that we’re getting closer and closer to the national party conventions. Jason Pye has already gone over some of the Top Five picks, and one name that continually comes up is Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

I wish it wouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. Paul Ryan is pretty awesome. He was the first Republican to put forward a genuine, truly solid budget cutting plan, rather than just spouting platitudes and nonsense. (I’m sure we can all gripe about Ryan’s plan, and how it doesn’t go far enough, but you have to admit, for a body and a political party that frequently talks the talk but never walks the walks, the Ryan plan is an amazing start.) But that is precisely why I don’t want Ryan to be Romney’s VP.

Paul Ryan presents budget plan

As expected, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, unveiled his budget for FY 2013 yesterday. The proposal obviously carries over some familiar themes, but it shows that House Republicans aren’t backing down from their goal to get spending down to sustainable levels and deal with entitlements.

You can find the details here, but here is the video that Ryan released with his budget that outlines many of the policy items found therein:

We’re seeing a mixed to positive reaction on the right. Some Republican strategists are apparently nervous about the GOP putting forward a significant proposal. They think it’s bad politics. But Ryan is committed to leading the way, offering a stark contrast to what President Barack Obama and Democrats are putting forward.

Tom McClintock questions CBO director on results of Obama’s economic policies

Few members of the House have been more consistant in trying to keep the Obama Administration accountable for its economic policies than Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA). Recently, Rep. McClintock had the opportunity to question Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), about how President Obama’s economic policies are hurting the nation during a House Budget Committee hearing on the recent economic report released by his agency.

Paul Ryan pitches tax reform in new video

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) put out a new video yesterday explaining why higher taxes isn’t the answer to our economic problems and pitches the need for reforming the tax code by closing tax loopholes and lowering tax rates, which will in turn encourage job creation and make our economy more competitive:


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